Dissertation (40 credits)
This is a major piece of independent work for which a topic is identified and research is carried out with supervisory help to produce a 12,000-word essay.
6,000-word Dissertation (20)
The 6,000-word dissertation is a piece of substantial independent research on a subject in Theology and/or Religion chosen by the individual student, but subject to approval by the Department.
Placement-based Dissertation (40)
The placement-based dissertation is an extended piece of substantial independent research (9,000 words) on a topic in Theology and/or Religion linked to a specific placement context chosen by the individual student, but subject to approval by the Department. Students negotiate a placement involving a minimum of 100 hours in a setting of their own choice, subject to approval from the Department.
Example optional modules may include:
Christmas and Ethical Consuming (20)
The module introduces key ideas and themes of ethical consuming within a framework of investigation of the practices of Christmas. Specifically, the module addresses the complexity of debates over the commercialization of Christmas and other religious festivals. This complexity is enhanced by the wider cultural concern with sustainability, fair trade, environmental impact and other aspects of an ethical approach to consumption. There is a focus on the overlap between ethical consumption, popular culture, and religious belief and practice.
Ethics of Character (20)
Ideals of character occupy a central - if sometimes underrated - place in our ethical life. Some of the most important moral judgements we make revolve not simply around the things people do, but around the qualities of character they manifest. This has been reflected in a long history of philosophical and theological engagement with conceptions of character, or the virtues and the vices. This module will investigate the concept of character using a variety of perspectives and approaches, focusing chiefly on philosophical accounts of character while also introducing religious perspectives on the subject. It will explore a number of core questions, such as: What is character, and why does it matter? What constitutes good character? Do ideals of character vary across different cultural, historical and religious contexts? Are we responsible for our character? Can character be changed, and if so, how? The module will familiarise students with contemporary discussions of character while also selectively engaging historical approaches to the topic.
Jewish Religious Responses to the Holocaust (20)
The module analyses a range of JRR, both as events were happening and subsequently. These responses fall into three broad chronological and/or thematic groupings
a) Orthodox responses emphasize continuity with what has gone before;
b) Holocaust theology emerged in the mid-1960s and emphasizes discontinuity, interpreting the Holocaust as a radical challenge in the face of which traditional categories of meaning (e.g., providence, covenant, election) are deemed inadequate and/or in need of radical reinterpretation;
c) Post-Holocaust responses (the 1990s ff) are characterized by chronological and geographical distance from events and explore the impact of the Holocaust, and the ways in which it has been interpreted, on Jewish identity and Jewish/non-Jewish relations, particularly attitudes towards the Palestinians.
In the module we focus on the contribution of key thinkers (e.g., Ephraim Oshry, Elie Wiesel, Richard Rubenstein, Emil Fackenheim, David Blumenthal, Melissa Raphael) and the evolution of their thought, as well as on recurrent themes or controversies (such as the Holocaust as punishment for sin, the relevance of Kiddush Hashem or ‘martyrdom’ as a response during the Holocaust; Holocaust testimony as sacred text; how to appropriately memorialize the Holocaust within the Jewish calendar and the relationship between Jewish commemoration of these events and national and international Holocaust Memorial Days; the mythologization and ‘sanctification’ of the Holocaust, the Holocaust and civil Judaisms)
Politics in the Name of God (20)
This module reviews and evaluates the significance of religion in global politics and international relations and its intersection with domestic politics and public policy. Whilst recent analysis of religion and politics has generally focused principally on Islam, this module recognizes the role of the major religions (defined as those faiths with a ‘world-wide’ presence) in the shaping of the politics of nation-states and the development of the international system. The module will survey the approach to religion adopted by major theories of international relations and discuss their most relevant insights, in order to understand contemporary political challenges, which include those of democratization, political development, political violence, gender, the environment, economic affairs, humanitarian intervention, globalization and other concerns that can intersect both with religious groups and ideas. The module will also look at the role of religion in various aspects of politics: institutions and structures, political parties, civil society and social movements, and economic development.
Special Study (20)
This module affords students the opportunity of detailed critical engagement with a specific issue in Theology & Religion in an independent study context working with a supervisor to be appointed by the Department.
Thealogy: Transgressive Travels with the Goddess (20)
An introduction to key themes of thealogy, its thinkers, and its theoretical concerns. The application of thealogy to a postfeminist context is explored, particularly in relation to the reclamation of femininity, images of domestic and sexual ‘goddesses’, and the discourses of choice, power and agency.
World Christianity (20)
This module studies the enormous changes in the nature and demography of world Christianities from the 19th Century to the beginning of the 21st Century, with particular focus on schisms and denominational histories, including Roman Catholicism, Protestant churches, ecumenism, evangelical churches, independent churches, and Pentecostalism. Attention will also be given to the globalization of Christianity and the relationship between world Christianities and society.